Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Are there "casual" raiders?

The “casual vs hardcore” debate has been raging since life on Azeroth began, and is unlikely
to ever be settled. Recently, however, I have read a number of blog posts and comments
from people claiming to be “casual” WOW players even though they raid a number of times a
week with their guild. I have also heard the term “casual raider” a lot more recently.

How is “casual raider” meant, in this context? Like anything else I the casual/hardcore debate,
it varies, although generally it is shorthand for “I raid a number of times a week with my guild,
but I am still a casual player. Definitely NOT hardcore…”

For some reason, a great many raiders still want to be seen as casual WOW players. I am
unsure why this is – maybe they do not want the social stigma attached to a “WOW addict”
or maybe they are in denial about how invested they are in the game. The only way in which
regular raiders are casual is in comparison to the very top guilds in each realm – but this is
not what most users of “casual raider” are referring to. My opinion on this if you are a raider
in a guild that raids regularly, you are not a casual player. Additionally, I would say that the
term “casual raider” has almost no meaning.

Let me present some (albeit very rough) figures. According to wowprogress, 34,081 guilds
have downed at least one Cataclysm raid boss (Baradin Hold not included). If we assume an
average of 20 raiders per guild (I said they were rough figures) then that would mean 681,620
raiders in Cataclysm. The latest figures from Blizzard say that 4.7m copies of Cataclysm
have been sold so far. That would mean that raiders account for only 14.5% of the Cataclysm

My question is this: If you are in the top 14.5% of players in the world in PvE content, then
can you really be classed as casual at all? Relatively speaking, you are a hardcore player.
Sure, you might only raid 3 nights a week, perhaps for 3 hours at a time. But I bet that a
huge number of WOW subscribers would look at that in disbelief – and that isn’t including
any heroics, farming or crafting. If you PUG a boss fight a week, then I might let you off for
using “casual raider” but at this point in the expansion these players are a tiny minority.

And to me it isn’t just an issue of time. It’s also a mentality towards the game. If you read up
regularly on the accepted best spec/rotation for your class, then in the grand scheme of the
game you are not casual player. If you are online reading and commenting on WOW blogs,
then I certainly would not consider your investment in the game “casual”. I “only” raid for 6
hours a week, but I would in no way consider myself casually invested in WOW. Hence why I
am here now, talking about it.

The term “casual” and “hardcore” must be relative to the population of the game. Just
because you don’t interact with the players who log on for an hour a week to play with their
pets, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. And just because you are “casual” compared to the
Ensidia guys, it does not make you “casual” in the bigger picture of WOW players.


  1. The term ‘Casual raider’ has nothing to do with your ability (at least in my own interpretation) It describes you approach to the game. For me WoW is a way for me to socialise so the people I play with are more important than getting a boss down. For me a hardcore raider is someone who has things the other way round. I am over 8500 gearscore but getting the next piece of epic gear isn’t so important that I would lose a friend over it.

    Also, casual raiders aren’t necessarily less able players than hardcore raiders. If you find a guild that raids with a ‘casual’ approach i.e. they put having fun above getting a kill then the guild will survive longer and develop more synergy. Success in WoW just like RL is about getting the balance right. I know a few players who have been in this game from vanilla and are still playing and till raiding. They all have one thing in common. They have a balanced approach to the game. On the other had I have seen so many obsessive, single minded, over achievers in WoW just burn out and disappear.

    I’m a casual raider ad have been for over 5 years. Flesh and blood will always take priority over a bunch of pixels and I’d rather have lots of friends than lots of achievements.

  2. I'm with Roidrage on this. I have been in a "casual" guild who (at least tried to)raid a couple of times per week. The amount of raiding or the skill of the players isn't what coins someone as casual or hard core. We didn't replace people when they failed, we didn't punish people for having the wrong specs, not being buffed etc. We told them that we really wanted them to give their all, but in the end we didn't do anything about it if they didn't, and we didn't recruit unknown people to replace our slacker guild friends. It is one of the reasons our raiding didn't work out very well ^^ It's not about being (or not being) casually invested in WoW at all, but definitely casually invested in the success of your raids, especially when it would mean taking it out on your social relationships. Simply put: Hardcore = Game > Friends.

  3. Casual is a difficult term to quantify. I wouldn't consider myself or my guild hardcore by any stretch of the imagination, yet I will adjust my work and social schedules around my raid days and raiders are expected to be fully gemmed, enchanted, food and flask buffed and prepared with consumables before the start of each raid.

    Progression is important to us and although no-one is expected to play in a way that they don't enjoy, rotation, responsibilities and slight spec tweaks for the good of the raid are expected. Our raid leader is encouraging but firm and we all get frustrated if there are too many silly mistakes. It's certainly not a 'casual' approach but nor is it busting a gut Paragon-style to down bosses as fast as humanly possible.

    I think the problem comes down to the terminology not allowing for a middle-of-the-road stance - both 'casual' and 'hardcore' are extreme terms, which probably come from Vanilla when 40-man was hardcore just because getting that amount of people together, geared and organised was a mammoth task in itself. But now, especially after the Wrath era, most of us reside somewhere in the middle, and maybe we need a new term entirely.